United States hits record for costly weather disasters: $306 billion

The cost of natural disasters to the global insurance industry in 2017 has been put around $135 billion.

The U.S. endured 16 separate weather and climate disasters with losses that each exceeded $1 billion a year ago, with total costs of about $306 billion, a new record for the country.

A total of 16 disasters cost $1 billion or more, said the report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hurricanes were the biggest source of damages by far. Some of the more noteworthy events included the western wildfire season, with total costs of $18 billion, tripling the previous USA annual wildfire cost record.

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The three major hurricanes past year killed about 250 people combined, NOAA estimates. Maria knocked out Puerto Rico's entire electric grid, triggering the largest blackout in United States history. Hurricanes Maria and Irma totaled $90 billion and $50 billion in damages, respectively.

Hurricane Harvey, which dumped some 50 inches (127 centimeters) of rain on Texas, cost $125 billion, second only to 2005's Hurricane Katrina in historical records of billion-dollar disasters, going back four decades.

"Insured losses were nearly three times higher than the average of $49 billion".

Some of the other costly USA disasters past year include: an outbreak of tornadoes in various southern states in January; California flooding in February; a freeze in the southeast that damaged fruit crops in March; and severe thunderstorms in the midwest in June. This was the third warmest year since record keeping began in 1895, behind 2012 (55.3°F) and 2016 (54.9°F), and the 21st consecutive warmer-than-average year for the US (1997 through 2017). Only 2012 and 2016 were warmer.


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